Chapter 2: Are the Books in the Jewish Apocrypha Inspired by God?

The fifteen Jewish books of the Apocrypha were written during the four hundred years between the writing of the Old and the New Testaments. That time period is called the silent years, because God did not inspire any writings. The Jews have never viewed those writings as inspired, nor did the early church. They are more like a best-selling Christian book. Such a book may have many good things to say, but there is no guarantee that its teachings are accurate. Yet even though the Apocrypha is not inspired and should never be used to determine the official teachings of the church, it does contain wisdom and it gives insight into the silent years of Israel’s history.

 

Excerpt from Incredibly Human: Community in the First Creation
Copyright© 2015 D. A. Combs
All rights reserved.
Reprinted 2017

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Advertisements

Chapter 2: What Does Inspiration Mean?

Inspiration means God-breathed. The Hebrew word for spirit and wind are the same word. So, just like the wind empowers a boat’s sails, the humans who wrote the Bible were empowered to do so by the Spirit of God who gave them supernatural insight and knowledge. He then directed them to write using their own vocabulary and writing style. Although some parts might have been quoted from God, generally the Bible is the result of this God-breathed process where God’s thoughts are transmitted through the Holy Spirit and expressed through the words of a human agent. It is because of this God-breathed process that the Scriptures are both reliable and trustworthy. As the Bibles states:

All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

Questions:

  1. Do you believe that the Bible is divinely inspired? How would you explain your belief?
  2. There are five ways to personally interact with God’s Word, the Bible. How are you doing in using them?
    1. Read/Listen
    2. Study
    3. Meditate
    4. Memorize
    5. Pray the Scriptures

 

Excerpt from Incredibly Human: Community in the First Creation
Copyright© 2015 D. A. Combs
All rights reserved.
Reprinted 2017

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Journeys of the Incredibly Human book

 

My husband, Jeff and I are trying to place a copy of Incredibly Human: Community in the First Creation in as many U.S. states and cities as possible, as well as internationally. As you vacation, would you place a book in the hotel room where you stay, leave it at a restaurant, or give it to someone you meet? This past week another copy was left in New Orleans. Remember that even though it’s just one book, God can do a lot with just a little and when He gets it into the right hands, lives are changed. It is like putting a message in a bottle, and then sending it out to sea. Consider  giving a copy with your message inside the cover and see what happens. Then, email me or post here to let me know – the city/state or city/country – so that I can track where the books are placed. So far, we have books placed in five states and eight countries. Will you join us?

2018 Denver Colorado
2015 Weston Florida
2017 Weston Florida
2018 New Orleans Louisiana
2016 Boston Massachusetts
2015 Cleveland Ohio
2015 Medina Ohio
2016 Toronto Canada
2017 Toronto Canada
2017 London England
2017 Northumberland, Felton England
2017 Berlin Germany
2016 Milan Italy
2017 Glasgow Scotland
2018 Madrid Spain
2015 Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates
2016 Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates
2017 Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates
2016 ? Zimbabwe

Join us and spread the egalitarian message of God’s love and purpose for humanity.

Blessings +
Diana

Chapter 2 – The Bible

Before the world began, God had a plan and purpose for humanity. Of course, He wanted them to know about it. After all, what would be the point in keeping it a secret? So, He chose to use the Bible, also known as Scripture, to be the vehicle of that divine communication.

Although to many the Bible is just a record of unrelated stories and events, a serious study reveals that it contains a purposeful disclosure of God’s plan. He has unfolded that plan step by step, and He invites us to come closer to understand it. He invites everyone to become a part of it.

As one would expect, the Bible goes back to ancient times. Some of its stories were first transmitted orally from one generation to the next until Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote them down on scrolls around 1300 BC. From that point on, there have been over forty human writers—both Jewish and non-Jewish, prophets, priests, kings, and church leaders—who wrote over a period of nearly fifteen hundred years. The result of such diversity over such an extended period of time could have easily produced a work of mass confusion and contradictions, but that is not the case. Instead, there is a focused continuity in its message of God’s Eternal Plan and Purpose. This was only made possible because behind its text is the divine author, the Spirit of God, who provides the inspiration to human writers.

Questions

What have you learned today about the Bible that is noteworthy to you?

Have you ever read the Bible?

Do you have a favorite verse?

 

Excerpt from Incredibly Human: Community in the First Creation

Copyright© 2015 D. A. Combs

All rights reserved.

Reprinted 2017

Join us and spread the egalitarian message of God’s love and His purpose for humanity

 

My husband, Jeff and I are trying to place a copy of Incredibly Human: Community in the First Creation in as many U.S. states and cities as possible, as well as internationally. As you vacation, would you place a book in the hotel room where you stay, leave it at a restaurant, or give it to someone you meet? Our granddaughter, Diana took a book to Spain last week. Even though it’s just one book, God can do a lot with just a little and when He gets it into the right hands, lives can be changed. It is like putting a message in a bottle, and then sending it out to sea. Great idea! Put your message inside the cover of the book and see what happens. Then, email me or post here to let me know – the city/state or city/country – so that I can track where the books are placed. So far, we have books placed in five states and  six countries. Will you join us?

 

Chapter 1, Gave an overview of God’s Eternal Plan and Purpose, the three creations and the days associated with each.

Chapter 2:  Next week starts a new study about the Bible. It will teach how to study the Bible, so that we don’t misunderstand God or His message.

Blessings +

Diana

Is There Support That a “Day” Could Be a Long Time Period?

The seventh and the symbolic eighth day have covered thousands of years. That is possible because a “day” can represent long time periods of unspecified length. As the apostle Peter pointed out:

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day (2 Peter 3:8.)1

 That verse was never meant to be taken literally. Rather, it means that when God refers to a “day,” He may be referring to a time period that is longer than twenty-four hours and could expand over eons. Many of the early teachers of the church supported that position. Those included Irenaeus (second century), Origen (third century), Basil (fourth century), Augustine (fifth century), and Aquinas (thirteenth century).2 Therefore, using the word day as a description for a long time period is consistent with both Scripture and the historic teachings of the church.

 

Conclusion

Throughout the eight days and their corresponding time periods of the First Creation, Fallen Creation, and the New Creation, God’s Eternal Plan and Purpose is gloriously revealed in a way that humanity could have never imagined. Since the Bible is the only source for that revelation, it becomes crucial to understand more about the Bible and its trustworthiness.

  1. The apostle Peter is quoting from Psalms 90:4, a book of poetry where the writer compares our days to God’s days.
  2. Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God (Orange: Promise Publishing Co, 1991) 141.

 

Excerpt from Incredibly Human: Community in the First Creation
Copyright© 2015 D. A. Combs
All rights reserved.
Reprinted 2017

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Chapter 1: Is There Support for the Eighth Day?

Three church leaders during the first and second centuries AD called the day of Jesus’s resurrection the eighth day. Those included Ignatius (AD 30–107), Justin Martyr (AD 110–165) and Barnabas (AD 100).6Although their writings are not a part of the inspired Scriptures, what they taught does reflect the thinking of the early church and confirms that the idea of the eighth day has a historic place in Christian tradition.

The Epistle of Barnabas, states,

“I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world.”7

 

Historically the eighth day symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus, and by implication, it also marks the beginning of another world that Jesus made possible through His death and resurrection. That new world is called the New Creation. While the eighth day is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, what it represents as the New Creation is taught throughout the New Testament, and its benefits are far reaching, impacting every person and the entire cosmos.8

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13).

 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5a).

 

Therefore, the eighth day represents the resurrection of Jesus and metaphorically the entire New Creation that has unfolded since. It has existed as the New Creation for two thousand years, and one day, after the return of Jesus, it will fully dawn into a glorious eternal day.

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea (Revelation 21:1).

 

6The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians, Chapter 9; Epistle of Barnabas 15; Justus Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 138.

7Epistle of Barnabas 15.

81 Corinthians 11:25, 2 Corinthians 3:6, Hebrews 9:15, Hebrews 10:20, Hebrews 12:24, Matthew 9:17, and Mark 2:21.

 

Excerpt from Incredibly Human: Community in the First Creation

Copyright© 2015 D. A. Combs

All rights reserved.

Reprinted 2017

 

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Chapter 1: What Does It Mean That God Rested on the Seventh Day?

When God rested on the seventh day, He rested from further creating. That means, He is no longer creating new species. Although diversification within each species continues to produce wonderful variations, He has finished with creating new ones.

However, that does not mean that He is not working at all. He continues to work in fulfilling His Eternal Plan and Purpose for humanity. Jesus confirms this by saying, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” (John 5:17b) Neither has God abandoned His creation. He is still at work sustaining, protecting, healing, and holding it together. The Bible says, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).

In addition, God is at work through the Holy Spirit who:

  • Convicts humanity about their need for God: As Jesus said, “When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment, about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned (John 16:8-11).
  • He reveals the truth about Jesus: Jesus also said, “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me” (John 15:26).
  • And, He grants the new birth: The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

 Furthermore, the Holy Spirit continues to work in humanity by filling and sanctifying them with Himself, giving them gifts of ministry, praying for them, and helping them to spiritually grow.5

5Acts 2:1–4, 1 Corinthians 12:1–11, Romans 8:26, and Galatians 5:22–23.

How has God been at work in your life?

 

Excerpt from Incredibly Human: Community in the First Creation

Copyright© 2015 D. A. Combs

All rights reserved.

Reprinted 2017

 

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Chapter 1: What Evidence Is There That the Seventh Day Continues?

Each of the six creation days closed with this repeating text, “And there was evening, and there was morning.”2 By describing the days in that way, God pictures the human workday, and sets the example of work and rest as patterns for humans to follow. After one works, it is evening, and then comes morning again, and the cycle continues. Not only does the statement, “And there was evening, and there was morning,” create a model for the human workday, it also officially signals the completion of each of the first six days.3

Then, suddenly, something new happens,

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done (Genesis 2:2–3).

Note that the phrase “And there was evening and there was morning” is not repeated for the seventh day, because the seventh day never ended. Its closing is still a future event.4

The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews understood that the seventh day continues on when he wrote:

And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: On the seventh day God rested from all his works. And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest” (Hebrews 4:3b-5).

In the context of affirming that God’s day of rest continues, he told the story of the ancient Israelites who were led out of Egyptian slavery by Moses in about 1300 BC. They traveled through the desert and came to the border of the land that God wanted to give to them. They sent out twelve spies, and ten returned with a fearful report that the land was occupied by a fierce people whom they felt were undefeatable. Only two of the spies had faith, Joshua and Caleb, who said that God would help the Israelites to take the land.

However, the people sided with the bad report. Due to their lack of faith, God told them that their generation would never enter the land. Instead, they were forced to wander in the wilderness for forty more years. When those years were completed and that generation died, Joshua and Caleb led the next generation into their promised land.

The author of Hebrews 3:7–4:13 wrote about this ancient story during a difficult time for the church. Under persecution, some of the Christians were becoming discouraged and were backing away from meeting with one another. The writer warned them to not be like the unbelieving Israelites who were poised on the edge of the Promised Land but who never entered it. He encouraged the church to believe in God’s promises and trust Him, because their reward would be the promised kingdom of God.

It would have been scary and difficult for the Israelites to go to war for their land against such a fierce people. Likewise, it was scary and difficult for the early church under persecution. In both cases, they could enter into God’s rest by faith and be assured that He would take care of them. They did not need to worry or try to handle these difficulties on their own. They could have peace knowing that God had things under control. The writer encouraged them,

For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his (Hebrews 4:10).

By not trusting God, one generation of the Israelites missed out. The writer of Hebrews was saying to the church, “Persevere! Stay faithful! Don’t miss out on what is ahead.”

It must have been common knowledge to the author that God is still resting.  Of course, that would mean that the seventh day has never ended. In fact, it would mean that the seventh day has lasted over the full expanse of human history.

2 Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31.

3 Personal communication with Martin Poenie, Ph. D. University of Texas at Austin, 2015.

4 Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1998) 64.

 

Excerpt from Incredibly Human: Community in the First Creation

Copyright© 2015 D. A. Combs

All rights reserved.

Reprinted 2017

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Chapter 1: What Is the Kingdom of Heaven?

Heaven is a literal place that was created for spirit beings. God resides there, and so do the angels. Sometimes the kingdom of heaven is called the kingdom of God. Either way, it is wherever God resides and wherever God’s will is done. As the king of God’s kingdom, Jesus preached during His earthly ministry, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17b).

The ancient Celtic Christians called the church colonies of heaven, because the church functions as earthly outposts for God’s kingdom during the Fallen Creation.1 As such, it becomes a window for the Fallen Creation to preview and join the kingdom of God where Jesus already reigns as Lord and King. One day with the return of Jesus, God’s kingdom will transform, spread, and fill the entire planet as the new heaven and the new earth.

 

1Ian Bradley, The Celtic Way, London, Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, 2003, 74.

 

What are the challenges for Christians with the Fallen Creation and the New Creation overlapping?

 

 

Excerpt from Incredibly Human: Community in the First Creation

Copyright© 2015 D. A. Combs

All rights reserved.

Reprinted 2017

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.